Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tapping into Student Interest

I love making activities that really hit home with the kids.  It is so important to use what your students are interested in so that you can capture their attention.  What is more fun: reading a text about something completely foreign to you that has grammar concepts you are studying OR reading a text that you have likely read before, from a book series that you love, that has been translated into French?  Almost anyone would choose the second option.

Have you ever read the Harry Potter series?  Have you ever read it in another language?  The interesting thing about Harry Potter in other languages is that some of the names change.  For example, in French, Snape is Rogue.  Hogwarts is Poudlard.  Muggles are Moldus.  Because a vast majority of students have already read the HP series, you can activate prior knowledge in figuring out some of the weird words by investigating their context.

For example:  I found a snippet from the third Harry Potter book of when the students are first introduced to Boggarts (shape-shifters that turn into whatever you are scared of).  This scene has a lot of futur simple in it, so I was able to have the students do an activity with it.  The activity I made came in three parts: identifying futur simple, identifying unknown words, and answering comprehension questions.  In the activity, I never told them who Professor Rogue was.  But, because they knew the scene they were reading, they were able to infer who he was.

The kids just ate it up!  They loved to be reading about something they A) already know and B) love to read.  I found that because they loved it so much, they got a lot more out of it.  They were able to complete the assignment with flying colors.  I can only imagine how glazed over their faces would get had I written some random paragraph about a boy and his dog.  But, because I used something they can relate to, they were able to get so much more out of it.

CLICK HERE for a printout of the activity, including the snippet from the book.

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